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Regina Reiling Gehling


Posted By: Richard Gehling (email)
Date: 2/16/2010 at 23:19:27

Regina Teresa Reiling was the fifth child of Albert and Mary Teresa Reiling. She was born at home on the Reiling farm in Carroll County, Iowa, at 2 A.M. on Monday, October 23, 1893. A few days later she was baptized at St. Mary's Catholic Church in the nearby town of Mt. Carmel.

When she came of age, Regina was enrolled in the Mt. Carmel grade school. There she spent the next eight school years. Life for her - as well as for all the Reiling children - revolved around daily chores at home, studies at school, and devotions at the parish church. The church had burned down three times: in 1883, again in 1892 - the year before Regina was born - and then again just after she was confirmed at the age of thirteen by the bishop from Sioux City. The fourth church was constructed entirely of brick. It was dedicated on 16 July 1908, the 40thh anniversary of the first Mass celebrated there.

Regina's formal education came to an end with her completion of the 8th grade. As a teenager, she was expected to work full time on the farm, with chores that ranged from washing and ironing to feeding the chickens and weeding the garden. When her older sister, Caroline, got married in early 1912, much of the care of her seven younger siblings fell squarely on the shoulders of 18-year-old Regina. But she did have time for a social life, even though it revolved mainly around visits to neighbors and occasional picnics or community dances. That same summer, Regina met a young man at a Mt. Carmel church picnic. They hit it off so well that he escorted her home in his one-horse buggy so that he might meet her parents.

The young man's name was Henry Gehling. He was the oldest son of Herman and Ella Gehling, who lived on a farm one mile and a half south of the town of Carroll, Iowa. When he and Regina first met, Henry was just twenty-two years of age, and already working a farm he had rented from his father on the first section west of Carroll. In between cultivating and harvesting and plowing, he seems to have sandwiched in several six-mile trips to the Reiling family farm during the summer and fall of 1912.

A year later, Henry and Regina were married at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Mt. Carmel. The date was 2 September 1913. Family members from all over Carroll County gathered for the ceremony, which was presided over by Henry's cousin, Father John Gehling. Following the ceremony, all were invited to a large reception and dance.

The newlyweds settled down on the rental farm where Henry had been batching the previous two years. There - over the next dozen and a half years - Regina gave birth to seven children: Frances Mary (1914), Lawrence Albert (1916), Erwin Henry (1918), Clarence Joseph (1920), Paul Anton (1924), Albert Frank (1926), Virginia Mae (1931).

Henry farmed the land with horses and with the help of his five sons as they grew older, and was soon growing bumper crops in the fertile Iowa soil. During the early 1920's he managed to have a new barn and silo built, and began to feed several dozen head of beef cattle. But the good times began to unravel during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Corn prices were low. Cattle feeding was no longer profitable. There was always plenty to eat, but the bills kept mounting.

Unable to cope, Henry held a farm sale on 21 March 1938, selling off all his machinery and work animals. The farm was returned to Henry's father, Herman Gehling, who in turn re-rented it to Regina's oldest daughter, Frances, and her husband, Leo Wendl.

Henry, meanwhile, decided on a move to California, hoping for some relief from his continuing asthma problem. In his absence, Regina moved herself and the five children still at home back to the Reiling farm near Mt. Carmel. Her father, Albert, had died of cancer two years earlier; her mother, Mary Teresa, had broken her hip in February of 1938, and now on her return home from four months of hospitalization, needed someone to care for her. The move worked out to the benefit of everyone concerned.

In September, Henry returned from California to help Regina celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary. The next June the two of them rented the Alpers' farm near Humbolt, Iowa. They stayed on that farm for nine months before moving to the neighboring town of Clare. A few months before the outbreak of the Second World War, they moved out of Clare to a series of nearby rental farms.

World War II separated Regina's children as nothing had before. Clarence received his draft notice in early 1942, Erwin in 1943, and Paul joined up soon after. After her third son entered the service, Regina hung a banner with three blue stars in the front window of her Iowa home. She hoped that none would have to be replaced by a gold star, a sure sign that he had died in battle.

By the time the last of their three sons had returned from the service at the end of the war, Henry and Regina had bought a farm of their own just a half mile north of the little town of Gilmore City, Iowa, in Pocahontas County. They moved in the first of March, 1945. The farm consisted of a mere eighty acres, but it was a focal point for family gatherings once most of the Gehling children had married and moved onto farms in the surrounding area. Regina reveled in having most of her children and grandchildren living nearby again, and planned birthday parties and holiday festivities for every occasion.

When Henry's health began to fail him in the early 1950's, he and Regina rented out their farm to their youngest son, Albert, and moved into the nearby town of Gilmore City. Their property was near the railroad tracks on the northwestern edge of town. It contained a large, two-story frame house, a small barn, and a wonderful old weeping willow tree, with branches so long that they touched the ground. The interior branches had been cut out to form a circular room that provided both shade and privacy.

Henry died of a heart attack on 7 December 1858. It was the 17th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the reason for the U.S. entry into world War II. Henry was buried high on a hill in St. John's Catholic Cemetery, one-half mile outside the town of Gilmore City, Iowa.

A few months later, Regina was prevailed upon to sell her two-story home, and move into a smaller house on the south side of Gilmore City, near the home of her oldest son, Lawrence. Her house was just across the street from St. John's Catholic School, where several of her grandchildren attended classes. Regina spent the next seventeen years tending her flower garden, baking her delicious anise cookies, and enjoying her many children and grandchildren. She died on the 11th of March 1975, and was buried beside her husband, Henry, in St. John's Cemetery.

Firstborn Sons of the Gehling Family

Humboldt Biographies maintained by Karen De Groote.
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